Working with doctors Working for patients

Talking to patients about personal beliefs

29. In assessing a patient’s conditions and taking a history, you should take account of spiritual, religious, social and cultural factors, as well as their clinical history and symptoms (see Good medical practice paragraph 15a). It may therefore be appropriate to ask a patient about their personal beliefs. However, you must not put pressure on a patient to discuss or justify their beliefs, or the absence of them.

30. During a consultation, you should keep the discussion relevant to the patient’s care and treatment. If you disclose any personal information to a patient, including talking to a patient about personal beliefs, you must be very careful not to breach the professional boundary17 that exists between you. These boundaries are essential to maintaining a relationship of trust between a doctor and a patient.

31. You may talk about your own personal beliefs only if a patient asks you directly about them, or indicates they would welcome such a discussion. You must not impose your beliefs and values on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of them.

Endnotes for Personal beliefs and medical practice